SunZia Transmission Project’s Lengthy Development Demonstrates Issues with the Permitting Process

One of the biggest obstacles to the administration’s green agenda is delivering large amounts of clean energy across the U.S. through an efficient and streamlined power grid. The administration intends to do this through investments in clean energy transmitters to help fortify the grid, while reducing emissions. However, these plans are farfetched as it takes decades for projects to be started and approved due to our nation’s rigorous permitting system. Combined with this lack of development, the administration continues to take stabs through the adoption of stringent emissions rules, risking the grid’s ability to function efficiently.

One of the Biden administration’s newest investments is the SunZia Wind and Transmission project, which would deliver emission-free electricity from New Mexico to Arizona and Southern California. Recently breaking ground, the project is the largest investment to date aimed at ‘decarbonizing’ our power grid. While this is a win for the administration at face value, the project has been in the works for over seventeen years. Facing its fair share of controversies and a cumbersome permitting review process, the administration pushed the project forward, funneling billions of dollars into the initiative.

While the project will make strides in strengthening our power grid, the Biden administration continues to hinder its future ability to function through imposing strict emissions regulations and stopping the development of new natural gas and coal powered plants. The emissions regulations are extremely unreasonable and pose major concerns as it will severely reduce plants’ production. As over 60 percent of the grid is powered by traditional fuels, any reduction in output would cause disruptions in grid functioning, resulting in blackouts and disrupting Americans’ everyday lives.

When we look at energy policy in 2024, the administration needs to take practical steps forward by streamlining the permitting process and fortifying our power grid without jeopardizing affordability and reliability. While the SunZia Wind and Transmission project will help to strengthen the grid, this project’s lengthy development demonstrates the deep problems with our permitting system, even for renewables. Concrete solutions need to be brought to the table rather than waiting seventeen years for the next project.

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